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Tibet landslide death toll rises to 1,117, with 627 still missing

August 13, 2010

Phurbu Thinley
August 12, 2010

Dharamsala, August 12 -- As of Thursday, the
death toll from landslides in Tibet's Amdo
Province has reached 1,117, with another 627
people still missing, Chinese state media said.

Tibetan Government-in-Exile and Tibetan exiles
around the world have been holding regular
prayers services for the victims of the tragedy.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a
statement he was "saddened by the loss of life
and devastation" caused by the disaster.

He expressed his "deepest condolences to the
families of those who have died or been injured
or lost their homes and possessions."

Leaders of international organizations and
countries have also reportedly offered
condolences to the family members of the victims.

In a shocking revelation, a report by Christian
Science Monitor, said the mudslides in the
Drugchu (Ch: Zhouqu) County was more than a natural disaster.

The report said the mudslides were predicted 13
years ago, when Chinese government-run lumber
companies cut 313,000 acres of forest from the
slopes of Zhouqu county between 1952 and 1990,
denuding the geologically vulnerable
mountainsides and subjecting them to soil erosion.

The report said the findings were supported by official records.

At the time, it said Chinese scientists warned
that deforestation in geologically sensitive areas could exacerbate mudslides.

The report said two Chinese scientists published
a paper warning that following “the destruction
of the eco-system” in the district, “a rainstorm
will carry debris down the gully, destroying
farmland, houses, roads, bridges, water
facilities, and power systems and causing death and injury.”

Chinese media have called it a rain-triggered
mudslides, but the latest report is corroborated
by a collaborative investigation by a
Beijing-based Tibetan writer Woeser, which also
suggested that the landslide appeared to be a "man-made disaster".

The investigative findings said excessive mining
activities, construction of number of
hydroelectric power plants and other development
activities, and heavy deforestation taking place
in Drugchu County area could have triggered the mudslides.

The investigation, citing Chinese government
reports, found more than 60 incidents of
landslides in Drugchu County alone in the past,
and 13 of them were said to be serious cases that
threatened the safety of local residents.
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